"I built an incredible bond with music because it was the one thing that I had that couldn't be taken away from me." Chad Gray, vocalist of Mudvayne, HELLYEAH
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ABOUT CHAD GRAY:
Chad Gray has always known the true power of music and how it can affect people. Music, in fact, saved his life and put him on the path to become the musician he is today. From Mudvayne to HELLYEAH, Chad has always worn his heart and soul on his sleeve and it is evident in the lyrics and songs he creates. Find out more about what fuels his passion and what music truly means to him on this episode.
Jeff: Chad, thank you so much for joining me on the show. It's really a pleasure to have you as a guest, and I'm really excited to dive in some good talk about music because as we're recording this, we're dealing with the worldwide pandemic, and the one thing I've been holding onto is music. I know that I can't go see you perform live but at least I have music to keep me going.
Chad Gray: Yeah, man. Music saves lives.
Jeff: It really does.
Chad Gray: Many fucking times it's saved mine, but it's definitely saving it again. So yeah, I mean that's what I do, so I have a very close bond with music. All I do really is hang out in the fucking heat. It's Vegas. Thank God we bought our house or whatever, I had to rebuild the whole fucking house. Literally, me. Me and a friend of mine and we just fucking dug into it. We took it all the way down to sticks, it was just studs, that's it. It had black mold, it had kaiser dry wall, so we had to pull everything out. The floors were completely fucked and not level and cracking, it looked like San Andreas fault line in my fucking bedroom. It was bad.
Chad Gray: We had to fucking sand it all the way down and then we re-poured. Yeah man, we brought in, I don't even know how many... We brought in a mixer and fucking re-poured the floors, re-leveled them. It's been a fucking nightmare, but it's really nice now. I threw a lot of money it at but it's all the money I made off the sale of my house in Arizona.
Jeff: That's so-
Chad Gray: So we're [inaudible 00:01:48] nice nest egg. Now I'm like, "Cool, I got a nice house," but that fucking money's fucking gone.
Jeff: That's so amazing though. What an undertaking. Was that something that you had done before? Or yeah, you're pretty handy?
Chad Gray: I was a builder for about four years when I was a kid, like 18 to 22, something like that. But I built new homes. So you're building from plans. You're walking up and it's just a patch of dirt and then you pour [inaudible 00:02:19] and you go... You go up. You're following plans. This, you're fixing other people's fucking messes.
Chad Gray: And like I said, the black mold and all that shit, and it's like, "Man, we had this house inspected and stuff." Those fucking people are just out to lunch man. It's like, "Dude, had you just told me, had you done a [inaudible 00:02:41] test and told me there's black mold, I would've been like fuck that house." We ended up having to tear it all down and rebuild.
Chad Gray: So it's a great house. It was built in 1964, it's an old Vegas house. It's not big, it's not super big, it's like 2,200 square feet. But it's a really highfalutin area like Casa De Shenandoah, Wayne Newton's place, is literally a block away. Mike Tyson lives like two doors down, just right down on... Big, big, big fucking houses, a lot of wealth in this neighborhood. Not me, but... I literally live in what would be an old bunkhouse for a ranch, and that's what it was.
Jeff: That's awesome though that you were able to basically raze it to the ground, build it back up again. Now it's completely yours. I miss the days of MTV Cribs because we could see it, come to your house and do that again.
Chad Gray: Yeah, [inaudible 00:03:44].
Jeff: Speaking of your childhood, so you were building when you were a teenager, but even farther back than that, you were into music. You were singing at a very young age, right?
Chad Gray: Very young, yes. My grandma was my fucking hero, love of my life, and she was into church and shit like that, so automatically I was into church. So I sang in church and stuff like that. But yeah, no I've been singing for a long, long, long time.
Jeff: What was the point, and I'm guessing it's in your childhood, when you discovered metal?
Chad Gray: Fuck. It was in a really dark time in my life actually, not in a good family situation at all. All the horror stories that you could imagine, I was living. Actually I think I stole it, Motley Cru Too Fast for Love tape, and I was like, fuck, only 12 years old, something like that. And I had a little mono recorder that my grandmother bought me when she... She lived 200 miles away from me but fucking step-dad took me to Florida, kind of really to spite my grandmother, because my grandmother and I were very close and he just... "Fuck you." And took me away from her, which crushed her and obviously me too, but she gave me this little mono one speaker cassette player, and it had record on it and shit.
Chad Gray: And I kept that thing between my mattresses. And I had fucking nothing else, I had no family. My mom and I remember my step father, they had a biological son together. So ultimately what I did, is I didn't have that as a salvation, in music. I listened to a family being a family on the other side of a door. And I didn't even go out that fucking door because it was "Fucking faggot, piece of shit, da da da da da." All kinds of hate. I'd go and get a drink of water and I'd get that shit. I'm like, "I didn't fucking do anything." You know what I mean? So that little fucking tape player, and that fucking cassette became my life. Because I didn't want to hear that family being a family on the other side of that door. Do you know what I mean?
Chad Gray: So I fucking put my everything into that tape, into that on cassette. It really did save my life, man. I was in a very fucking dark place for a few years, a few years. It was bad. But that's when music first touched me, because it was saving me. So right then, I built a fucking incredible bond with music because it was the one thing that I had that couldn't be taken away from me. But I had to keep it secret or it could be taken away from me. So it was tough. But I [inaudible 00:06:51] and those dark times and stuff like that, through music. I literally, I don't even know. I mean, all the way back to the beginning of Mudvayne, having those internal bouts, wrestling matches in my head, of, "Do you really want to put this out there? Do you really want to do this?" "Yeah I do." "No you don't." "Yeah I do." "No I don't."
Chad Gray: A war. And finally I would submit because the one thing that... and I learned to get there faster than I do, so I didn't have to fight as long. But apparently I'm a self torturer, so I had that wrestling match in my head. And finally what gets me to go forward with it, if I've been through it, somebody else has been through it. And that's my opportunity to share my life, and make a difference in somebody else's. And let them know... because I remember when I was going through that hard time, that's not something you scream to in the mountaintops. You don't talk to your friends about it, you don't talk to anybody about it. You're completely introverted and you just carry it inside, and it's a painful, painful place, and it's a fucking wet banket, it's heavy, this massive depression and you're 12 years old, you're not familiar with those feelings.
Chad Gray: So that's why some of the darker songs that I write, that are from that era or whatever, I just write them as honest as I can, so people can relate to it. I want it to resonate in people, and let them know that they are not alone. Because they're not talking about it either, right? They're not saying shit, so they're carrying that inside of them, this fucking rock they're carrying inside of them. But if they hear that song that I wrote, they'll know at least one fucking person has been through maybe what they're going through. So like I said, music is super cathartic, it's super therapeutic, it will get you through the hard times man. It's going to get... Our metal family and our metal community, trust me, is leaning on my music, fucking all the bands. Slipknot, Korn, fucking you name it. All the greats, Metallica, fucking... people are really leaning on us as artists, really hard right now.
Chad Gray: So it's my pleasure, it's something that I've tried to do in my life because of the way that I grew up. Part of my therapy is to accept myself every day. I accept myself for who I am, 20 pounds overweight right now, whatever. You have to literally accept yourself. And you have to want to make a difference in one life every day. No matter how you do it, whether you give a dollar to somebody that's panhandling or fucking do what I do, whatever. So I just try to tell myself every day, I accept myself for who and what I am. I'm a good person. I know that I write music that's going to help someone, so every day I have the opportunity to give someone some sort of salvation.
Jeff: Wow, that's so inspiring. When you were a kid and you found this connection to music, was that the same time when you thought, "Maybe I'd like to create music myself?" Because that's a big step for a lot of people. People grab onto music and hold onto it, but sometimes never even think, "I need to create that." Did that happen at the same time?
Chad Gray: No, I was way too young for that, at that point or whatever. I didn't have any friends. I didn't have much of a life dude, I just existed. In a place where I wasn't really wanted. Which is fucking tough. And again, I know there are people out there like that today, and kids like that today man. It's always there, and it sucks, because the people that I know and love... Kyle for example, fucking great father. Tom, great father. One of my friends Brad Hursh used to sing for a band called V Shape Mind. It was actually signed... That I helped get signed, a fucking incredible father. I mean, I'm so proud of all my boys, I'm so proud of all the people that I know that are such tremendous fathers, because I fucking had it bad.
Chad Gray: And had I had any one of those guys I just mentioned as a father, who knows what I'd be. You know what I mean? Somebody actually embracing you and loving you, and lifting you up and supporting you and stuff like that. And that's kind of what I do when I'm on stage, I kind of feel that dad strength. You know what I mean? And I love doing it. And some people, in the concert experience or whatever, they feel like I'm giving them something. Or whatever. No. I mean, I'm doing what I do, but you're also giving me something back. And so it's not a give and take, and it's not a using situation, that's why I consider it family, because we're sharing something. That's what we're doing. I might be on stage three feet higher than you, that's just so everybody can see me. End of the day I'm a metal kid, I'm right there, I'm in the fucking moment just like they are.
Chad Gray: So that's such a great thing. I think that's something I wanted to do... That's probably one of the things that got me into wanting to create music, just so I can kind of share my stories, and hope to be a part of that. But fuck, I used to go to shows... That was my escape too. Fucking Clash of the Titans, fucking that's old school shit. That's Slayer, Megadeth, fucking Anthrax. Duh. Alice In Chains. Fucking incredible. And so I've been a metal kid my whole life, and I still... I always tell people on stage, off stage, "I don't care how fucking old you are, how many people here are a metal kid?" And every fucking hand goes up. It could be somebody out there 45, 50, 55 years old. I'm like, "Who's a metal kid?" Boom, hand in the air. They are.
Chad Gray: So it's cool, man. But I mean, I think part of that wanting to be a part of something larger than me. You know what I mean? And that's why, that's my connection to my fans and most of that. But I don't consider them fans, fan is short for fanatic, I get it. But at the end of the day we're all a big fucking family, and I love it. And I'm so proud of all my friends bands, that do the same thing as I do. I'm super, super proud of them.
Jeff: That's so amazing.
Chad Gray: Yeah.
Jeff: You brought up Mudvayne, talk about something that became larger than yourself. But as the story goes, you quit your job and move to go join this band that wasn't even a band at the time, back in '96. That's another moment where so many bands today, don't take that leap. So many musicians don't take that leap. How did you wrap your mind around that? How did you get to that point and just say, "Fuck it, I'm giving this a shot."
Chad Gray: I wanted it. I mean, I fucking wanted it. It is, it's a leap of faith, it really is. But I mean, for me it was just like I need a fucking... The players were so solid, and I was driving back and forth from Decatur to Peoria which is 85 miles, three times a week.
Chad Gray: Rehearse for a couple nights, drive back, work three 12 hour shifts back to back, drive back up, drive back. That was my whole fucking life and I'm just like, "Suckiest job." You know what I mean? And I was making fucking money, that was the first time in my life I actually made some money working... That kind of money. And it just wasn't important to me. It wasn't fucking important. It was important to my grandmother. She loved seeing me with a solid future, so to speak. I went to her house, like 5:00 in the fucking morning, because she got up with the fucking roosters. And I had to be at work at 7:00, so I got up like 5:00, went over to my grandmother's house, was sitting there with her, I'm like, "I need to talk to you." And she's like, "What's going on?"
Chad Gray: And I'm like, "I don't want to do this anymore. I feel like I'm doing this for you, and I want to do it for you, I would do anything for you, but I can't do this anymore. I want to go chase my dream. I finally found people that are fucking competent and great, and want it as bad as I do. And that's hard to find, a group of people that want it as bad as you do." And I was like, "I need to go, and I need to do this." And she was always so supportive. And she's like, "Chad, I just want you to be happy. Whatever you have to do to be happy, make that happen."
Chad Gray: And she's like, "I'm proud of you." And she's like, "For, again, taking that leap." She said she was just proud of me and [inaudible 00:16:52], and she's like, "Oh I'm going to tell you something." I was like, "What?" And she's like, "Don't fuck up. Don't fuck up." So I couldn't fuck up. So I had to go. I mean, I left that job and stuff like that. I went up to Peoria and got a job doing whatever the fuck I was doing up there that was just remedial bullshit. And I did that for a few years before we got signed. We all had an understanding man, in the band, it was like, "Let's stop fucking around, let's just get signed." So we did, "Let's quit fucking around, let's just get signed." I'm like, "That sounds like a good idea. Why didn't you say this three years ago?"
Chad Gray: So we quit playing out. Because we used to play out, we'd open for a friend of ours' band and shit, make like $50. And we got to be that band that was always opening for them, well that crowd started turning. We used to do it to get in front of more people because they were a really popular bad, they're still a great band, and all of a sudden we started seeing people... Because we'd play at like 8:00, 7:00 or 8:00, to 50 people, by the time we got done playing maybe 100 people, to just within a couple shows 700 people showing up at 7:00 to watch us play.
Chad Gray: And that's when we came to that understanding like, "You know what? Let's just fucking get signed, let's not fucking worry about playing out." We would still go see that band all the time, and [inaudible 00:18:33] in the crowd, hanging out, drinking, fucking whatever. People would just be coming up nonstop all night, "When are you guys playing again? When are you guys playing again?" Like, "Don't know man." "Come on man, when are you guys playing again? Why don't you just come back over..." We're like, "No man, no." And we just sat in the hole and we wrote songs. That was our goal. And then we did, we played a VFW show and fucking 1,700 people showed up.
Chad Gray: Yeah. And that's when we knew like, "Oh okay." You know what I mean? "Okay, we got all the ingredients. Let's go." And then after that it was like this, this and this and [inaudible 00:19:12] and it got around and bam.
Chad Gray: Got signed, got taken under the wing of Slipknot, which was fucking great. Clown was at our showcase. Clown, his drum tech, their manager who also worked at Epic Records at the time, he's passed away, rest his soul, and our manager. So it was four people, full lights, full PA, face paint, all that shit. Do you know what I mean? Came out, fucking blew it up, walked out. And Clown comes up to me and he's like, "You got issues." But literally he was the reason why we got signed. He gave us the nod, because they wore the masks and we had the makeup. But in talking to him and stuff, he legitimized us. Do you know what I mean? They legitimized us. They're like, "Okay, we got this band. They're about their own thing."
Chad Gray: And they embraced us and we fucking toured the first seven months out of the studio from L.D. 50, with Slipknot. On three different legs, so it was always us, somebody else, I think [inaudible 00:20:19] was one, Slipknot, us, Limit of Silence from England, Slipknot... And this was before they really broke so we're playing like... I mean, it was going to happen, you knew that. But we're playing fucking nuts to butts 2,000 fucking people, you couldn't get 2,000 more in there. Do you know what I mean? It was just cram packed, and we come out and just fucking blowed up and again, just they legitimized us. They made us really to their fans, so we got accepted.
Chad Gray: We owe them a lot, they were great to us. And I'm still great friends with Corey, we are still great friends, very proud of him for just taking this pandemic and going and doing a solo record. It's incredible that he maximized what he did through this. I wish I was doing that. But he had obviously band players and music, and it was ready to be done. So he just fucking took advantage of this down time. I wish I was writing right now, I wish I was in the fucking studio. Doing what I'm doing right now is pretty fucking disheartening, just sitting around fucking waiting for me to be able to get back with my people. I need that, I need them as much as they need me.
Jeff: I totally understand, totally understand. I do want to mention the Mudvayne front, it's well known that you guys were running with Slipknot in those first few years and that's where your break came. But you could tell that you guys were putting the work in and working hard to do it. The first time I ever saw you guys perform was actually on Oz Fest in 2001 in Connecticut. And it's funny because that's a connection, again, to Death Wish Coffee because you guys opened... It was obviously a big festival, everybody's opening for everybody, but you were directly opening for Black Label Society with Zakk Wylde who we work with at Death Wish. And that was the greatest one two punch ever, you guys came out and destroyed the stage and just looked like you had the most fun ever and then the biggest viking in the world comes out and does his thing. And it was just... Did you have any interactions with Zakk that...
Chad Gray: We did a tour with him... And fuck, I can't remember what tour it was, I just know they were on it. But it was a bigger tour because we were in arenas and shit. Me and him would literally... Zakk had been drinking and shit. It's probably been several years by now because everything just runs together, but we fucking hung out man and did every night, just in the loading dock, we'd be sitting on road cases and shit just fucking cracking up, man. Both of us double over laughing, and I mean it was one of the highlights of my day outside of playing, was hanging out with Zakk. And now fucking cool and fun he was, and funny. Fuck man, just a fucking great dude, he's such a great dude. So proud of him for what he's accomplished too. The sobriety, it's incredible, it really is. No, he's a fucking great dude, he's a fucking-
Jeff: He is, and he never shuts down. Like you said, the few times I've had the opportunity to hang out with him too, it's like he gets to the level of, "You can't be funnier than that." And he just says something else and it's like, "How? How are you that funny?"
Chad Gray: He's fucking incredible man. We could sit there in a fucking loading dock and just, bro, he was doing Ozzy and shit when I was still in that young age and not anybody yet. Those moments, man, for me are like pitching in moments. "Are you fucking kidding me man? I'm hanging out." Like a bro, I'm not just hanging out with him and he doesn't know my name. He would seek me out so we could go to the loading dock and hang out with me. We became friends. I'm friends with fucking Zakk Wylde, you fucking kidding me? Zakk's knocking on my bus door to get me if I'm coming to hang out with him? What the fuck?
Chad Gray: Same with fucking Kerry King and Jeff Hammond when Jeff was around, oh man. Fucking meeting those guys... Slayer was my favorite band. They're fucking just unbelievable. But I've done a lot of touring with them man, and it's so fucking cool to hang out with Kerry, and back in the day with Jeff and Tom, and all them guys. I've got several bands like that, like fucking legit that. David Mustaine, totally fucking cool dude. Had a lot of fun hanging out. That would have been on the same tour, whatever that fucking tour was that I was on with Zakk. But I hung out with Dave Mustaine too and I was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" [inaudible 00:25:29] fucking people, they're just dudes, they're all just dudes, they're all just people man.
Jeff: It really all boils down to that. And speaking of just people, I want to switch gears because all the different tours you've been on, all the different thing. The story goes that you met Tom Maxwell from Nothingface and you guys had that initial conversation like, "Oh we should do a project." And I'm always so curious because super groups, if you want to call it that, they come and go but so many times... I was a musician myself and so many times you are either on tour or on stage with another band, and maybe it's a band you've never seen before, or you have heard or something like that. And you're like, "Damn." And you always had that conversation backstage like, "Man, we should do something, we should write a song together." And everybody goes, empathetically, "Yeah! Fuck yeah, that's a great idea." And then 99.9% of the time, that is the end of the conversation.
Chad Gray: Never comes to fruition.
Jeff: How did Hellyeah get through that to be the .001% of that?
Chad Gray: Oh man, it's fucking... We wanted it. Tom and I got on really fucking good, right at the beginning [inaudible 00:26:38] Tattoo the Earth. Which Slayer was on, and Slipknot was on and stuff, and that was in 2000. That's fucking OG shit.
Chad Gray: I watched Nothingface, and they're fucking rad, and they watched us and thought we were rad and blah blah blah blah blah. And we just got on really well man, drinking and partying, and we used to have a fucking fight club where we'd fucking back up and fucking slam each other in the gut. Just fucking stupid shit, drunk, young, fuck the world, having fun. And we wanted to do it. And then obviously he wanted to do it, I wanted to do it, but I was in a band that was just breaking so I was fucking touring... I wasn't touring, I was in the fucking studio. That's how the first three or four Mudvayne albums were. We toured for... Shit, L.D. 50 was 26 months. The End of All Things was probably 23 or 24, Lost and Found probably the same, but as soon as we'd get off man we'd go home for a couple weeks then we'd go right back in the fucking studio and write.
Chad Gray: So I wanted to do it but I didn't have time to do it. I didn't have fucking time. And we got together and wrote... I was on a break, like a two or three week break, I got flakey and shit from fucking being out on that river, fucking sunburned. So we talked about it and we eventually got together, I was on a break from Mudvayne for like two or three weeks, probably right before we were getting ready to go into the studio or something again. So me and Jerry jumped on a plane and flew to Baltimore, and we wrote Waging War with Tommy Sickels, he was the drummer for Nothingface. Tom, Nothingface, Jerry was in Nothingface, and then me or whatever. And we just wrote that song, Waging War or whatever, with Tommy Sickels playing drums. And it was a fucking incredible song. And we wanted to be fucking over the top, fucking heavy as fuck.
Chad Gray: And that song is super fucking heavy, it's actually on the first Hellyeah record, because it was already written. Vinnie played the drums, he's like, "All right, [inaudible 00:28:41]." And that's all we got out of it was just that one song. And eventually in '06 or whatever, I get this call that fucking Vinnie wants to do it and I'm like, "What the fuck, are you kidding me? Wow, mind blowing." As we sit here and talk about Dave Mustaine and Kerry King and all that shit. Vinnie Paul, hi, probably should have brought him up. But he was a fucking hero in my day.
Chad Gray: So we had a short conversation on the phone, 14 minutes and 38 seconds I think it was. And just decided him, he's like, "You know man, I know you guys want to be really heavy and shit like that, like super heavy." And so he's like, "I'm more into the kind of groove thing." And it was kind of like, "Yeah, I know that." And [inaudible 00:29:36] super grooved. So we had already went, we're like, "Fuck it, let's just get together." And we went down to his fucking house, he put us up. He built these, like a little... Looked almost like a trailer or whatever but it had four doors on the front of it and those were just little bungalows or whatever. So he built us a house to come down, and we [inaudible 00:30:02]. And we got in a room, man, and fucking wrote... The first fucking track I think we wrote was Nausea. And it just kept going, and kept going, and kept going. And we wrote that record. Wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered third day [inaudible 00:30:18].
Chad Gray: It sounds like that when you hear it, sounds super fucking raw, but I love that album. I mean, I really do. It was a fun record because that was me on a level trying to reinvent myself, which is fucking tough. When you're established with Mudvayne, doing what I did, trying to do something different than that was really fucking tough. I got a lot of respect for people that have done that. Corey is a great example of that, he was with Stone Sour and now he's doing a solo record. He's incredible. So again, reinvented himself a third time. It was tough man, but it was a lot of fun. We had fun with it, and when I went down there and we started doing that, I made sure I made time in the midst of all the Mudvayne shit. I'm like, "I'm going to fucking do this, I'm going to... I wrote this record, I'm going to go tour it with Vinnie Paul and Tom. And Greg on the first record." I wanted to go do it.
Chad Gray: Greg wanted to be there obviously, so that helped. With Greg being in it with me, that helped me get that padding to get away from Mudvayne and go actually tour. We didn't really care, you can hear that on the first record, you can hear that when you listen to it that we didn't have a formula and we didn't really have a fucking plan. We just wanted to try it and do it, and if it flew then we do it and whatever. It became really fun. And Mudvayne was very much a business, at the end there was a lot of internal dissension created by other fucking people. Hellyeah became fun. So I wanted to have fun playing music again.
Chad Gray: So that was the course I chose and I had a fucking great run with it and it's been a lot of fun playing in a band with one of my heavy metal heroes, Vinnie Paul. Creating music with Tom, because he's fantastic. Kyle, being in a fucking bad was like, "What the fuck?" I mean, Kyle fucking bitching, he's such a great great player. I mean, he's a great fucking player. It's so funny too because obviously I've had these talks with Ryan like, "We need inspiration." I mean, it's the same. It's the Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, fucking Cliff Burton, [inaudible 00:33:02] Kyle was the same way. He learned to play the Metallica shit, he learned to play some Primus stuff, he learned to play Steve Harris, fucking Maiden and all that shit. He learned how to play all that stuff. Which is that galloping fucking... He's a finger player.
Chad Gray: But Maiden's great for fucking finger dexterity because it's... It's just that gallop or whatever, and Kyle can do that man. Incredible. He's one of the best fucking bass players that I've... I've had the honor, and privilege and pleasure to play with arguable two of the best fucking bass players on the planet.
Jeff: Hell yeah.
Chad Gray: Ryan is a fucking monster, and fucking Kyle is a beast. He is so good, and he's such a great performer and I love him so much. Him and his whole damn family.
Jeff: Totally, totally. When Kyle was on this show, I was asking him the same thing about his influences and he said all of that but he joked because he was like, "It was always what I could learn when I was wrestling the bass away from Troy." Because they would constantly share it, share it, which is incredible because they both become incredible from putting that work in. So it's just amazing. I wanted to mention too, because you were talking about Vinnie, one of my heroes as well. You had said how music saved you as a young kid with Motley Crue. I discovered metal with Maiden, when I was really really young I discovered metal with Maiden.
Jeff: But the first metal that ever spoke to me when I was getting bullied in school, when I was having really low times was Pantera. That was the first music that was like, "Oh my God, this is what metal can be." And Dimebag became my God. He was everything.
Chad Gray: I'm wearing it baby.
Jeff: Yeah, I know you are. And after that tragedy, and everything, I know it was highly publicized. Vinnie was like, "I'm probably never going to play again." And then he joined up with you guys. And I was lucky enough... This was early on with Hellyeah, you guys played Albany, New York and I got the chance to interview Vinnie. I was freelancing for a music magazine, New York State Music, at the time. And I got to interview him. And I'll never forget his face light up talking about playing again with you guys. And just like you said, how much fun he was having, he never thought he could feel that again. Totally understandable, but it was amazing to just see him like a little kid, get excited to go up on stage and go play with you guys. It's just amazing.
Chad Gray: Honestly dude, Dime was our muse. I mean, we looked at him like a sixth member. He was equal with us, even though he's not here in body, he was so much with us in spirit. And I think that's what Vinnie really embraced to is the idea of being able to fly the flag for his brother and pay homage to his brother, while playing music. He told me so many times, that's what Dime would have wanted. Dime would have wanted him to play, not give up. Because he's fucking supremely talented man. Both of those boys were. I mean, fucking one hell of a fucking nut sack their dad's got, if you know what I mean. It's created fucking two... I mean, almost not even arguably, legends. You know what I mean? On two different instruments. Fucking incredible, incredible talent, in both those guys man.
Chad Gray: And Vinnie was so... Dime was that fucking player that's just fucking lights out, and just fuck off, it's Dimebag. He's so ridiculous, so good. But Vinnie was the other side of that, where he was super fucking talented with drums but he was a gear head. He knew gear, he could mix, he could fucking record, and he could fucking write man. I would come in with ideas and I'd be fucking over the moon. Take, for example, You Wouldn't Know. I was over the moon about that song, I fucking loved that track because it was different. It was rock, which is something that I'd never really done, and it's just such a straightforward rock track.
Chad Gray: And Vinnie's sitting there and I mean, I was so stoked about that chorus, and I brought Vinnie in because we were recording at Dime's garage where they did fucking Trendkill, they did Reinventing, the Damageplan record. I mean, they did some shit in that fucking garage. So he comes in there, I'm like, "Dude come here and check this out blah blah blah." He sits down, he's like, "Play it again." Play it again. He's like, "I don't hear the hook." I'm like, "What? You want to hear the... what are you talking about?" It's like, "That little part right there, could be, could be, maybe (singing)." He's like, "[inaudible 00:38:26] right there." I was like, "Yeah." He's like, "Why don't you put that (singing)." And I instantly heard it. I'm like, "Get out, get out." I literally went (singing), then he come back in, he was like, "That's it." But I mean, this is a drummer.
Chad Gray: Giving me advice on vocals, and "Oh, you missed the hook." And not only, "There is no hook, fix it. There is no hook, this is the hook, sing it and it's done." Because I had worked with producers before, they were like, "I don't like it." [inaudible 00:39:17]. What do you want me to do? Just do something. Fucking rewrite a song two or three times because they couldn't direct me on what they wanted, because they weren't musical enough. Not all the producers, but I've worked with people like that. And even when I've done production and stuff like that, I'd never shoot down an idea if I don't have something even better. I produced the fucking [inaudible 00:39:45] record or whatever with Greg and stuff. But every time anything would come up, where I just felt it could be a little stronger, I would wrap my head around it before I would bring it out to Elias.
Chad Gray: And then be like, "Dude, why don't you try this?" He's like, "Oh okay cool." But I always had an idea. And that was Vinnie. He signed off on all my vocals and that's what was so tough about Welcome Home, because he had heard three songs that were, Oh My God, Oh My God Welcome Home, and I can't remember the other one. But he had only heard three songs. Or, what is it? Fuck. I can't think, whatever. But every one of those fucking songs, he would write me and just be like, "Dude, listen to this. This is fucking incredible man. This is so good." Gave me such props, he used to fucking tell me all the time, you'd fucking be on the bus and fucking be drinking or whatever and hanging out and he'd fucking grab me and pull me up to him like a big bear. He'd be like, "You're my fucking favorite singer." I'm like, "Really? I'm not even my favorite singer that you've played with."
Chad Gray: I was like you bro. I was a fucking Pantera freak. I don't have any friends that weren't Pantera fans, I don't want to have any friends that weren't Pantera fans, I don't want to fucking know anybody that's not a Pantera fan. But it was so fucking great, but me and a friend of mine when I lived in Decatur before I left to go to do Mudvayne, we used to listen to the fucking Cowboys From Hell cassette night and fucking day, all the time, riding around in his car and shit. And people would always [inaudible 00:41:36], "Who's this?" "What do you mean, who's this? Fucking Pantera, what do you mean, you..." "No, I've never heard of them." Well you need to get the fuck in here. And we'd just send them off being fucking Pantera fans.
Chad Gray: But I got to see them... I saw them 14 times. But I got to see them between Cowboys and Vulgar. I probably told his story to Vinnie 20 times and he just let me tell it or whatever, he didn't care that he heard it before. But I probably did, I told him this story 20 times. And he'll just smile and let me tell it, or whatever. But I saw... They did three warmup shows with Vulgar. Which actually, I looked at the dates on it and Vulgar didn't even come out for like three or four months after that, which I thought was weird. But I saw them in a club in St. Louis called the 367 Club, and I think it was an old grocery store or something like that, but it held like 2,000 people, something like that. And again, fucking just fucking supremely packed.
Chad Gray: That fucking show fucking really changed my life, man. I was like, "What the fuck?" Like you were with just hearing the van. Obviously I was into Cowboys and stuff, and I knew that fucking record backwards and forwards but I never seen them. And holy shit dude, there are probably 30 fucking people on stage the whole night. It was fucking crazy, and people just get up and dance across the fucking... Just dive in the crowd and it was just like this constant fucking people getting up. Of course this was back in the day, long fucking [inaudible 00:43:18] in the fucking club, no barricade, just mushed right against the front of the stage. And I was right under Dime, and Grady would fucking bring out his wah pedal, because there was so many people on stage you couldn't just leave a pedal sitting there.
Chad Gray: So it was just on the line and he'd bring it out, set it down in front of Dime, and Dime would use it, and he'd run out and grab it and take it back. One of the times through the set that Grady brought it out, I was right in front of him, and he just put his arms down like this and I grabbed his arms and he pulled me up. I just fucking, I said, "Yeah", like that to him and he's like, "This shit's big." And I just went, "Whoop." And that was my first stage [inaudible 00:44:01].
Chad Gray: It was so fucking great man. I [inaudible 00:44:04] so many times after that, but that was where I was hooked. You're talking listening to the music and how that was the band. That was the band for me too.
Jeff: That's amazing.
Chad Gray: But obviously I listened to their music all the time, but from a live perspective I was just like, "This is the fucking greatest band on the planet. Legit."
Jeff: Hands down.
Chad Gray: Phil was all fucking young, and I think he said from the stage that night, "I'm only 22 years old." Something like that, I remember him saying he was 22. He was just super fucking Billy badass and just fucking... He could fucking, he could nail all those fucking crazy ass notes, fucking art of shredding and all that shit. Just crazy shit, he just destroyed it. He was super fucking mobile and great performer. They all were though. Dime was up on the fucking wedge, fucking playing his head fucking back, drooling. Playing the fucking lead. Night and day attention. Just crushing... probably drunk. Get hammered and just fucking...
Jeff: I was only lucky enough to see them twice and I've told this story on the show before too but they played, again, another Oz fest. In fact, it was an incredible show because it wasn't Black Label but Zakk was there with Ozzie, so the entire time that Pantera was on stage, Zakk was literally behind Dime's amp stack, just feeding him shots the whole time. He's like, "Just to make sure." Because Zakk wasn't drinking, but just feeding him shots. But the night before, they played-
Chad Gray: [inaudible 00:45:44].
Jeff: It was 2000? He might have been. I was fixated on Dime, so...
Chad Gray: [inaudible 00:45:51] Those two were fucking dangerous.
Jeff: Crazy. But the night before... So this was Oz Fest 2000 and they came to my home town in Saratoga Springs, New York and the night before, we heard that a bunch of the bands were in town. Tommy Lee and Methods of Mayhem were in town, and a bunch of bands were just milling about in town. So me and my buddies, all young, went into town, we're like, "Who are we going to see? Who are we going to see?" And we're walking down the street, and I see... Because he's a God, you pick him out of a crowd.
Jeff: I see Dime walking down the street with Rex, and they're walking towards me and my friend. And my buddy's like, "Dude, that's Dime. Dude, that's Dime." And I just stop, and it's just us on the street, and I just stop. The worst thing ever came out of my mouth and I just look him dead in the eyes and go, "You're Dimebag Darrell." And without missing a beat, Dime just looks at me, puts his hand on my shoulder and goes, "You're damn fucking right I am kid." And then walks away. And I was like, "That's amazing."
Chad Gray: Goddamn right I am.
Jeff: I still, I can't believe I said that to him. But still, it was a great experience.
Chad Gray: Literally man, that dude literally taught me to be a rockstar or whatever the fuck I am. The way he carried himself, so much humility. And I honestly think humility's probably just because, especially the business I'm in, humility is probably one of the greatest human traits you could have. Just being humble. And he was so fucking humble man, he was so rad. Watching those Pantera home videos man, really trained me and conditioned me to "That's how you should be."
Chad Gray: When he's out there with the bus crew, and got his pig nose, and he's playing guitar with the black guy that's panhandling. Do you know what I mean? It's like, "What the fuck?" And he talked to every one, I mean. And that's how I am man. I mean, I do, I value my community very much. And if I'm going to be a part of that, in the position that I am, I'm going to do it the right way. And fucking be humble, be grateful, because at the end of the day bro, I wouldn't be who I am without them. I mean, that's just plain and fucking simple.
Chad Gray: And speak and spell here. It's just legit, without the metal fans, and the metal family, and the metal community, what the fuck would I be? Nothing. So I would never be disrespectful to anybody, especially when they're being supremely respectful to me. Because people are always so fucking sweet to me, and I just feel like that's part of my job, give them some love back because they goddamn deserve it.
Chad Gray: Always have and always will man. I fucking miss them. I miss getting on that stage and playing for my own peace. Talking about that whole psychological element of this, that's been hard. That's an escape for me is getting up there, I believe in it and I'm very real in doing it. And I want to have that fan tribute to themselves, and empower people, not tearing people down. I want to make people feel empowered. And again, accept yourself because you fucking deserve it. You deserve the world for what you've done for me. As much as the music, they have saved my life as much, because they've given me worth, self worth.
Chad Gray: And that's a big thing. That's a big part of life, is being able to... Don't be fucking arrogant, don't be a fucking asshole, just be humble, be respectful and love the family. And embrace your part and your role in it as a fan or as a musician. We all share it, we all do share it. I'm not on a pedestal and I don't put myself on a pedestal. I'm only anything that I am because of them. And them is us, do you know what I'm saying?
Jeff: Yeah, totally. That's so inspiring, and it actually literally is the answer to the theme of this show. Which is what I ask every guest, and I don't even need to ask you because you've already answered it. When I ask every guest, "We are all fueled by the exact same thing. We're all fueled by the finish line. We're going to die someday. It could be tomorrow, or it could be 500 years from now if they find that immortality fountain somewhere. And we are all going to die, but we want to leave the world a little different before we inevitably leave it for good." I'm always curious what fuels people to be passionate about what they do and why they continue to do it. And you've answered that in spades, you love the community that you're a part of and you love to create for the same reason why the creation's affected you, that you can then affect the world. And that's amazing.
Chad Gray: Yeah, you've got to do things that are... I want to do things that are going to resonate. I do want to leave the world a better place than it was before I became human. And yeah, I just want all the best for everyone and I just want everybody to know right now that I do think about them. Do you know what I mean? Every day, all the time. Every night around 10:00 it's like, "Why am I not doing my job? Why am I not on stage? Why am I not allowed to be up there?" But I mean, I get it, and I want people to be safe, but I do want people to know that I am wholly thinking about them every fucking day of my life right now.
Chad Gray: And I cannot wait to get back in their respective city and stand in front of them, and empower them, and pull them up and fucking make them feel good about themselves because they deserve that. People need reassurance. I do, but I get it from them every single fucking night. I'm not getting that reassurance right now, so I'm a little... This has been very psychological.
Chad Gray: Trying to keep my head up as much as I can but I am a fucking negative one, and positivity is not my thing. So yeah, so I just really do want to leave my mark, but that's the mark I want to leave. Humility, and to know that I was a good person, and I treated people with respect and empowered them. And I tried to make a difference every day in somebody's life. I think I can do that, even when I'm not on stage, the music's still out there to listen to. So hopefully it's still touching people even though I can't be there physically.
Jeff: I was going to say, speaking as a fan, I can speak as the entire community, that we can't wait to see you back on stage as well. But it is comforting, like I said in the beginning, that we do have music in these times because I have been listening to a lot of what you have put out into the world. Mudvayne and Hellyeah are always in my rotation, and it gives me comfort and solace to know that you can still be in my living room and you don't know it. [crosstalk 00:53:47]. At the very, very end here, I just wanted to mention this because we were talking about this a little bit in the beginning, and I'm just so curious. Because we're all stuck at home, we're all finding new and inventive ways to better ourselves and new skills and things like that, and we both have professed our love of cooking. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about how much you love cooking, and maybe tell us a dish or two you've tried recently that you didn't think you could have done and now you're cooking up a storm?
Chad Gray: Yeah, one I've been perfecting over probably a decade is fucking my chicken chili, so I guess that's not a new one. But I mean, I used to go with chicken breast and this and that, and then I'm like, "Well some of these fucking rotisserie chickens, they're at the grocery story." So I started buying those and that fucking [inaudible 00:54:36] pulled the chicken and you get white meat and dark meat. And obviously dark meat is all the fucking flavor. I added fucking boujon to it to get more heat, just a different kind of a heat level of flavor. Because I love the flavor of boujon as well, especially when it's diluted to a pot of chili, or it's a chicken broth based chili.
Chad Gray: You've got that and crumbling up fucking tortilla chips and putting it in there, it gets this little corn sweetness to it. And then of course you shred fucking... And you got to shred it, don't buy the bag shit, Monterey or whatever. Put that fucking in that motherfucker and just let it just sit there and melt in front of you. It looks like a Pizza Hun commercial, just gooey cheese. That fucking dish is so great and it's... Jim and are actually talking about doing a dinner and drinks kind of cooking show.
Jeff: Oh I was just going to say!
Chad Gray: Yeah, we could Zoom and do it. Just call it dinner and drinks, so people are just laid back, you know what I mean? Why I want to do it too is, it gives me obviously a little bit of supplemental income, which is good right now, but it'll give me a chance to fucking hang out with some fans. Do you know what I mean? One on one, you know what I mean? I know Scotty M and his girl, Pearl, have been doing happy hour or something, they charge a pretty good amount of money, it's awesome if you can do it. I think that's just so rad. It's a cool idea because it is literally intimate one on one time with your fans. You know what I mean? So I don't think we'll be charging outrageous prices or anything like that for it, but I would love to do that. Just so I can just get back in people's fucking faces, scream in their fucking face a little bit. Just cook with them and have a couple drinks and just chill out, and just enjoy some time with my fucking family that I miss so much.
Jeff: I freaking love it. Make it happen, it's going to happen. Set it out into the world so now it exists and it's going to happen. I'm so excited for that.
Chad Gray: Yeah, just need to [inaudible 00:57:01]. One of the things that we have back is baseball.
Chad Gray: So fucking tonight is fucking... We talk about crazy Neil's cooking, fucking dogs on the grill buddy.
Chad Gray: Hot dogs on the grill, it's the fucking best man.
Jeff: It is.
Chad Gray: [inaudible 00:57:22] I make my own relish with different types of pickles and just sorts of things like that. Fresnos and peppers and chili's.
Jeff: Have you ever gotten into pickling your own pickles?
Chad Gray: I want to do that.
Jeff: Dude. Dude, it literally destroyed my life for an entire year because I pickled everything. Carrots, cauliflower, green bean, everything in the world because it is so great. I'm such a pickle fanatic.
Chad Gray: It is. The green beans are amazing, the fucking asparagus is fucking... and I'm not a big asparagus fan. But pickled, awesome. And dude I love vinegar anyway, I can put fucking vinegar [inaudible 00:58:02]. I love vinegar, I love acid. So yeah, that... I was going to say, it's pickling, and I was going to say... I can't remember what I was going to say. It's something along the lines of cooking or whatever. But yeah, I love your fucking coffee man.
Jeff: Man, I'm so happy. I'm glad that [crosstalk 00:58:21]. I'm glad that we were able to caffeinate you guys when you were on the road, but I'm glad that we're still able to caffeinate you guys now when we're all stuck [crosstalk 00:58:29].
Chad Gray: Kyle was the one that made that one happen, and then I was home and I'm like, "Fucking drinking whatever, horseshit." And it could have been fucking Starbucks, I don't know. But it wasn't as good as when we were on the road. Because we had your coffee up there